I’ve been on a fermentation kick for the last few months, focusing on small batch stuff, so I can ring the changes with spices and seasonings and never get fed up of what I’ve made.
It’s easy. I grate vegetables in the food processor (mostly carrots, but I’m open to other suggestions), squeeze them together with salt and spice, squish down in a jar and wait. I liked carrots with cumin and fennel, but fermented carrot with dill seed was sort of blah.
After a few versions where the brine bubbled out the jar, I have concluded that 400-450 grams of veggies just pack down into a 500g Mason jar.
450 grams carrots
7 grams of salt
1/2 tsp of spice
Grate the carrots finely and use your hands to mix them with the salt and spice, squishing the veggies together until brine starts to come out. Push down into a wide-mouthed jar, trying to get rid of any air spaces, and then push a clean, narrow jar down on top of it. I sometimes fill that jar with water to weight it down, or I get lazy and I use an unopened jar of jam or chutney.
Cover with a cloth to stop dust getting in, and leave on the countertop until it bubbles its way to your preferred degree of tanginess. I start tasting my carrots after 2-3 days, and they are usually done after 4-5 days. But some recipes say it takes a week or even two. It depends on how warm your kitchen is, and on the mood of the carrots.
A few tips:
- You want 1-2 percent salt to vegetables by weight, so it’s easier using a digital scale (set to metric) than using measuring cups and spoons. But there are recipes that use cup measurements if that’s your thing.
- Don’t overdo the spices.
- The amount of liquid you end up with is totally unpredictable. After about two days, the brine rises to the top of the jar, and sometimes bubbles over (store your jar on a plate or a bowl). But after 4-5 days that liquid seems to soak back into the carrots.
- If you have leftovers that won’t squish into your jar, just eat it as a (slightly salty) salad.
- You can add extra brine if the carrots dry up, but they are usually tangy enough for my taste by the time that happens, so I move them to the refrigerator to stop the fermentation process.
- The books say the fermented veggies will keep for weeks or even months. My small batches never last that long — I add a forkful to my lunchtime sandwiches (they taste awesome with home-made hummus), or throw them into a salad for extra taste and crunch.
- This is probably total coincidence, but I’ve lost a little weight since I started eating my fermented veggies on a regular basis. All those good fermenting bugs seem to do very nice things to my digestive system.
Next up: Friends over at http://www.wellpreserved.ca point me to this recipe, which I am going to do as soon as I’ve started eating the carrot batch that’s bubbling away right now. I mean how can you go wrong with carrots and ginger?